In a fledgling App Store dominated by games and streaming video services, you'll find a few gems to make the new Apple TV more useful in your lounge room.
The new fourth-generation Apple TV set-top box makes a pretty good first impression, but if you're looking for long-term value compared to its predecessor then you need to be making the most of the App Store.
There's a growing range of games on offer but they are unlikely to be the primary reason why you'd buy the ATV4 rather than use Airplay with the cheaper ATV3 to mirror games on your television. Anyway, if you're serious about games you'd probably be better-served by one of the more well-established game consoles.
We're still waiting for more streaming video services, for now in Australia you've got Netflix, Stan and Tenplay which were already available on the ATV3. We're still waiting for the likes of Presto, Quickflix and Foxtel Play/Go to come onboard along with catch up services from the other free-to-air networks. News services also are popping up in the App Store, but these days most people reach for their phone when they've got a few minutes to check up on world events.
So what's the killer app for the new Apple TV? That's going to vary from home to home, but here's a few to consider;
The arrival of Plex on the Apple TV is the showstopper in my home. Think of Plex like Netflix for your home entertainment library, making it easy to search through your collection and watch practically any video format on any device.
The Plex Media Server software is free and surprisingly you don't need a Plex Pass subscription to use it on the Apple TV – unlikely most other home entertainment devices. A Plex Pass isn't cheap but you get a lot in return.
The Plex client on the Apple TV is fantastic, very slick and easy to use while taking advantage of the trackpad to flick through video timelines and pull-down extra menus. It's certainly a major improvement on the clunky Plex client built into my Samsung Blu-ray player.
If you're looking for alternatives on the Apple TV then take a look at the SimpleX app. If you're keen on streaming video around your home then also check out Air Video HD, NAStify and LocalCast. VLC is also on the way.
Looking at your photos on the television might seem redundant when you can easily mirror content from your iGadget, but Storehouse is a storytelling app rather than just a photo gallery.
Flickr was already on the Apple TV but think of Storehouse a bit more like Keynote, but for creating photo and video slideshows for your friends rather than work presentations. You can play around with the layout as well as add captions and other effects to tell a short story rather than just flick through image after image.
There's an iOS app for controlling everything from your phone, including a live-streaming feature, but Storehouse could make a good fit for less tech-savvy homes which have an Apple TV but not a smartphone or tablet. My parents are a good example, they've got cable broadband but it's a fairly low-tech home – there's a PC in the spare bedroom but the Wi-Fi network is only for the benefit of visiting family members.
An Apple TV might be a good fit in their lounge room when they're ready to dabble in streaming services like Netflix, but the killer app could be access to Storehouse on the big screen to see family photos – especially with new arrivals on the way and some family living overseas. My parents aren't on Facebook, so bringing Storehouse to their television could be their killer Apple TV app.
How many Wii Fit balance boards were bought with good intentions but are gathering dust under the bed? Spending a few dollars on an Apple TV fitness app might be a smarter investment, especially an app which keeps track of your progress.
There are already plenty of fitness apps on the Apple TV, but Australian-made Streaks Workout is more in the style of a personal trainer and it caught my eye because it doesn't look too daunting for reluctant beginners. I don't want to watch people in better shape than me power through exercises to funky music while spouting motivational quips.
Streaks Workout is also rep based rather than timer based, so you can work at your own pace and tap the remote when you're done. Let's be honest, I'm not getting up at 6am for a daily date with Streaks Workout, but I swear it's on my to-do list.
While I wouldn't call them killer apps, there are a few interesting apps designed to bring different experiences to your lounge room.
The top free download in the App Store is Fireplace Lover, a simple app which converts your television into a crackling fire. The resolution isn't the greatest but for me it's actually the sounds that do the trick as the fire burns away in the background. The second most-popular app is EarthCamTV with live feeds from around the globe, while Earthlapse TV shot from the International Space Station is one of the top paid apps. Other experience-style apps include the Art Channel, Amazing Aquarium and even the slightly creepy Sharks Live.
If you own the new Apple TV, what's your killer app? If you don't, want kind of app – apart from Netflix – would it take to get a device like the Apple TV in your lounge room?